As we celebrate 25 years of service to children and families in 2021, Connecticut Children’s proudly continues our long-standing commitment to strengthening families to promote optimal child health, development, and well-being. In addition to providing high quality clinical, medical, and surgical care to accomplish this goal, Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health broadens these efforts to encompass community-focused initiatives that meet additional needs of children and families.
Connecticut Children’s latest Community Benefit Report highlights this work to support and empower children, families, and the communities we serve. Here is a snapshot of the ways Connecticut Children’s has addressed the needs of children and families throughout this past year, as featured in the report.
Addressing COVID-19 Needs
In 2021, we continued our commitment to providing support to children and families as we all endured the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Key elements of our work to address these ongoing pandemic needs include:
- COVID-19 vaccines: Connecticut Children’s hosted COVID-19 vaccine clinics for team members, patients and community residents. During those clinics, team member volunteers administered more than 9,700 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to adults and more than 7,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to patients. In addition, Connecticut Children’s partnered with Hartford Healthcare as part of our Care Alliance to provide vaccine clinics to youth ages 12 to 15 when they became eligible.
- COVID-19 testing: Connecticut Children’s continues to make COVID-19 testing available to team members and patients. Since the start of the pandemic, we have administered more than 15,500 tests.
- Video visits: Connecticut Children’s continues to offer video visits to patients even though in-person office visits for our 30 subspecialties have resumed. Such visits fluctuate from week to week, but continue to comprise about 15 to 20% of our total appointments. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, clinicians have performed more than 85,000 video visits, providing patients with flexible and convenient access to quality medical care.
- Ask the Experts webinars: Connecticut Children’s infectious diseases physicians hosted more than 50 Ask the Experts webinars to ensure community providers had the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 650 unique people from 14 states attended the sessions and received more than 4,900 continuing medical education credits. The most popular topics included the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, school-related considerations and concerns during COVID-19, and ensuring a safe return to sports during COVID-19.
- Toolkits for families: Connecticut Children’s developed toolkits featuring advice from our clinical experts to help families navigate the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Such toolkits included a Back to School Kit, a Winter Kit for Families during COVID-19, a Return to Play during COVID-19 Kit, and a Next Normal Kit.
- Meeting families’ basic needs: Led by the Help Me Grow National Center at Connecticut Children’s, Help Me Grow systems around the country mobilized to meet the basic needs of children and families. Together they distributed more than 1.1 million diapers, more than 1.4 million baby wipes, more than 16,000 ounces of formula, and more than 93,000 additional baby items.
Read more about how Help Me Grow systems served as a trusted infrastructure for families with young children to turn to in their time of need.
Addressing Mental and Behavioral Health Needs
Unemployment, economic hardships, and disruptions to children’s education started when the pandemic hit the United States in early 2020 and continued through much of 2021, which fueled escalating mental and behavioral health concerns.
Connecticut Children’s has committed significant resources to address these concerns, including:
- Behavioral Health Learning Community: Connecticut Children’s Care Network hosted a nine-part Behavioral Health Learning Community series for pediatric providers who are members of the Care Network. The series is designed to help community pediatricians provide better behavioral health-centered care to their patients. Session topics included anxiety, depression, ADHD, screening tools and community resources. About 170 providers from 30 practices participated.
- Universal suicide screening: Connecticut Children’s Emergency Department saw a sharp increase in patients at risk for suicide. Providers in the ED screen all patients ages 10 and older for suicide risk. During the first half of 2021, 22% of children screened positive for suicide risk, compared to 16% during that timeframe the year before.
- Toolkit for families: Connecticut Children’s developed a Mental and Behavioral Health Kit featuring advice from our clinical experts to help families identify and address mental and behavioral health concerns in their children. The kit offered tips on supporting children’s social and emotional well-being during COVID-19, advice on helping children reset from stress, and guidance for getting help for children at risk of suicide.
Read more about how Connecticut Children’s is saving lives with universal suicide screening.
Promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
In addition to addressing children and families’ mental wellness and COVID-19 needs, our work to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through our DEI Framework has continued.
- Culture audit and assessment: As part of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Framework, Connecticut Children’s worked with an outside partner to conduct a culture audit and assessment. This included interviews with organization leaders, focus groups for team members, and an organization-wide survey. After releasing results of the audit and assessment, Connecticut Children’s convened team member volunteers into work groups to develop recommendations for enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Declaration: Connecticut Children’s released its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Declaration after compiling feedback from the culture audit and assessment and team member work groups. The declaration is a key part of Connecticut Children’s diversity, equity and inclusion journey and focuses our efforts going forward.
- Organization statement on racism, discrimination and bias: Connecticut Children’s released a statement pledging to work with team members, patients, families and community partners across sectors to reduce the racial and social divide and advance equity.
- Team member initiatives: As part of our diversity, equity and inclusion journey, Connecticut Children’s divisions and programs are working on plans to strengthen their office cultures. Here are some examples of this work:
- Pathways to Action: Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health launched the Pathways to Action initiative to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion within the Office. Pathways to Action offered team members a series of town halls and anti-racism grand rounds sessions; formed an equity committee; drafted a statement on racism, discrimination and bias that was endorsed by the larger organization; and suggested improvements to make hiring practices more equitable.
- Women in Surgery podcast: Connecticut Children’s Women in Surgery group launched a podcast to provide a platform for women surgeons to network, share their successes, and work to eliminate barriers that prevent women from entering the field. The podcast series is now available on Connecticut Children’s website and on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.
Read more about the Women in Surgery podcast series.
As we celebrate 25 years of service, Connecticut Children’s looks forward to the next 25 years of serving as a critical community resource and furthering our clinical and community-focused efforts to improve outcomes for children and families in Hartford and throughout the state.
Read our 2021 Community Benefit Report.
To sign up for E-Updates from Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, click here.